The Academy of Performing Arts, the Moss Center for the Arts and the College of Creativity, Arts & Technology are partnering to present a New Music + Technology Festival on December 12th. Cube 5-7. The three-night concert series showcases experimental music from students, faculty, and guest performers, spanning artistic and technical mediums.
Performing Arts faculty member Kyle Hutchins will perform in addition to directing the festival. “As festival director, I’m learning, curating and organizing performances for multiple scenes outside of my main instrument,” Hutchins said. “This job is interesting to me because it gives me new ideas, allowing me to forge new connections with composers and performers I might collaborate with in the future.”
His participation, which will be performed on the first night of the festival, is “a large-scale work by Virginia Tech composition faculty Tiffany M. Skidmore titled The William Blake Cycle: Unseen, Unformed, Unknown.” This 70-minute experimental electro-acoustic instrumental opera features saxophones, 134.2-channel spatial audio, 360-degree video projections, theatrical staging, and costumes on the concept of “non-binary gender Identity, sexual politics and gender stereotypes,” Hutchins said.
It will be directed by Amanda J. Nelson, faculty member of the School of Performing Arts.
The second night of the festival featured student group L2Ork, a Linux Laptop Orchestra and a Personalized Ph.D. conducted by Ivica Ico Bukvic, Director of Interdisciplinary Communities for Creativity + Innovation. Human-centred design program and professor of music at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.
Performer and computer science major Tyler Johnson said L2Ork uses “software on Linux and external devices to generate the sound. That means we can control the sound by moving our arms or typing.”
Student musicians will perform a piece with an Argentine cohort via telematics, a computing technology that allows two physically distant teams to transmit and receive musical information. What makes this kind of collaboration particularly challenging is the precise beat that needs to be performed simultaneously at two locations thousands of miles apart. For this, the orchestra will use its own custom software, L2Ork Tweeter.
“Our combined team has managed to create something very special and I’m delighted that we can present it in person in the cube with our collaborators, who will be performing their part remotely in Argentina. …They are very proud of the The contribution to this piece has been invaluable, and aside from some time zone errors, the collaboration went very smoothly,” said Jacob Alan Smith, a junior studying Music Technology and Music Composition.
The piece itself is called “Transcontinental Rumor,” a riff on “Trail,” a popular chamber music track by the musical group Lane 8 and Elderbrook.
“In today’s digital world, technology has become a pervasive force in our lives, so I thought it was only natural to try to harness its power for artistic purposes,” said Smith. Interested in music composition and performance exercises, including creating performance ensembles like L2Ork that exclusively use digital sounds, or enhancing acoustic instrumentation through the use of Max patches and real-time audio processing.”
The second night of the festival will also feature the Virginia Tech Percussion Ensemble performing Steven Snowden’s “Men With Guns Live Here,” as well as Juhi Bansal’s performance commissioned by the Jessie S. The Orchestra consists of Elizabeth Lanz, Hutchins, Evgeny Dokshansky, John Irera, Molly Wilkens-Reed, Ellen Weinstein, Anne Stevens , Ariana Wyatt, Charles Nichols and Derek Shapiro. Ted Moore, also a faculty member in the School of Performing Arts, will perform a composition he wrote called “Still Motion.”
On the third night of the festival, award-winning violinist Sarah Plum will perform a number of solo pieces. Hailed by Textura Music Magazine as a “brave new music champion and violinist,” Plum has had a prolific career championing new music, commissioning composers, and bringing contemporary music to a wider audience.
For the festival as a whole, Hutchins said he feels “very lucky at Virginia Tech to have access to a unique festival performance space in the Cube. Few spaces can match the technical capabilities of this room, and many of the The pieces are all made specifically for this venue and are at the forefront of musical performance possibilities.”
Find information about the festival here, including links to free pre-orders. All performances take place in The Cube at the Moss Arts Center. All events are free and open to the public. Seats are limited.
If you are disabled and would like accommodations, please contact Susan Sanders at least 10 days prior to the event.
Written by Liz Gray, Arts Leadership Graduate, School of Performing Arts